When we arrived at Cinque Terre and realized we were only spending two days there, I instantly regretted not giving it more time. Many people do Cinque Terre as a day trip, but I could easily spend a week there! We hope to go again one day and will devote 4-5 days, not just two. Cinque Terre is a national park comprised of 5 villages with paths/trails that connect between them. We stayed in the town of Manarola which is pictured above, and despite the trek to get to our room every night we loved it.
With the exception of Monterosso (the largest of the five towns), hotels are not really a thing in Cinque Terre and rooms book far in advance. Our trip was in May and even though I booked our room in late December I still struggled to find a place to stay. We stayed in Giovanni Rooms Manarola and our room was pretty cute. The owner also owns rooms in the town of Vernazza so we will probably book with him again since we want to stay in Vernazza when/if we go again.
Cinque Terre has a few tourist attractions such as the church in Monterosso and the tower in Vernazza (which is featured in the Pixar film Luca!), but the real attraction is the national park itself. Each town has trails connecting it to the next one. Our goal was to hike between each village but being pregnant at the time I quickly realized that would not be possible and we only ended up completing two trails since each trail is essentially straight up the mountain and straight back down. There are two easier trails but when we visited they were closed due to landslides, so make sure to check the national park website before you visit to see which trails may be open.
The towns themselves are worth exploring as well. We would hike to the next town, wander the streets and shops, grab some gelato and then jump in the ocean!
When we were in Cinque Terre I wanted to make the experience unique and try something we had never done before. We ended up booking two separate experiences and really enjoyed both of them! There are boat tours all over Cinque Terre but we loved ours because our guide had been born and raised in Manarola and he was lots of fun.
The Liguria region of Italy (where Cinque Terre is located), is known for its pesto so even if you don’t take a pesto making class you definitely should eat some while you’re there! Since there are few restaurants, reservations are recommended if you’re trying to eat a sit down place. All the places I listed below are in Manarola since we stayed there, but I guarantee that there are delicious options in the other towns as well. Another thing to note are days places are closed, since they can be random.
- Il Porticciolo (pictured above) – Second favorite meal of the trip, it was all delicious!
- Nessun Dorma – This restaurant hosts the pesto making class we took, but if you aren’t able to book that in time you can still have a wonderful meal with a view here
- La Scogliera – Right across from Il Porticciolo and not as great but still good
- Fish and Chips in a Cone – This isn’t the name of the place but what we ordered, these stands are everywhere and so good! There are other options to such as chicken and shellfish.
Tips and Tricks
- The best way to see everything is by using a Cinque Terre Card which can be purchased ahead of time or at any train station. This will give you access to both the trails and the trains which are the main mode of transportation between the five towns.
- As I mentioned earlier, make sure to book everything (hotels, experiences, etc.) well in advance, otherwise you might not be able to do everything you want.
- For families, I recommend staying the in town of Monterosso as it is the largest and completely flat so much easier to walk around.
- As in the other places in Italy, there are water fountains found in each town which made it easier when hiking to re-fill your bottles.
- Cars are not ideal when traveling to Cinque Terre, it is much easier to get there by train. However keep in mind while packing that you may need to carry up your luggage on steep inclines!